PODIATRY AS A PROFESSION
Dedicated to the Foot, Ankle, and Lower Extremities
Podiatric Medicine is the highly specialized branch of medicine dedicated to the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disease and disorders affecting the foot, ankle and lower extremities.
Podiatric doctors (or podiatrists, as they are sometimes called) have completely independent and unlimited surgical, pharmaceutical and medical authority when acting within their scope of practice as described by each individual state.
They are formally recognized as physicians by federal programs such as Medicare and at the state level with 24 state legislatures having taken special initiatives in this regard.
Podiatry became identified as a special field of study and practice in Britain in 1774 under the name "Chiropody" (from two Greek words, cheiras, chap or crack, and pous, foot, originally referring to the treatment of corns and bunions). It reached career status in the United States during the 19th century, and in 1895 was accorded independent recognition by the New York State Legislature.
By 1911, the first college of podiatric medicine was operating in New York City (the New York College of Podiatric Medicine), and licensure was integrated under the State Board of Regents by the Board of Medical Examiners.
Podiatrists are a Lifesaving Link within the Health Care System
Today, podiatric doctors are providing specialized foot care to more patients than ever before. Because the foot has a complex interrelation with the rest of the body, it may be the first area to show signs of serious systemic conditions, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The podiatric doctor is often the first to detect symptoms of these disorders and becomes a vital and sometimes lifesaving link in the health care team.
As the trend continues towards physical fitness, with greater emphasis placed on sports medicine, the importance of the podiatric doctor is becoming more and more apparent in many of the nation's leading hospitals and treatment centers.
Qualifications for obtaining a license to practice the profession of podiatry require an applicant to be a graduate from an accredited college of Podiatric Medicine and to have passed the applicable licensing examination and requirements of the state in which the Podiatrist plans to practice, and/or the National Board of Podiatric Medical Examiners Basic Science and Clinical Examinations.
In addition, many states require a period of graduate medical residency training and/or other graduate medical education meeting their specific requirements for licensure.
There are recognized specialty board certifications available for podiatric doctors who undertake postgraduate studies and pass additional examinations. These are in surgery, orthopedics and primary podiatric medicine. Each of these boards requires its diplomates to participate in continuing medical education programs annually.
A career in podiatric medicine offers you the opportunity to plan your own work schedule, decide on your own type of practice, and attain professional status within the health care community.